Belfast Telegraph

'It puts life in perspective': Graeme McDowell missed PGA Championship after friends' houses flattened by Hurricane Dorian in Bahamas

Graeme McDowell
Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell says his golfing career was put in perspective by the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas.

The 40-year-old withdrew from last week's BMW PGA Championship, initially stating his decision was 'due to a personal issue' which had curtailed his preparation for the tournament.

McDowell owns a house on one of the Bahamas islands and has revealed that he has been helping with fundraising efforts after the most powerful tropical cyclone ever to hit the country struck at the start of September.

"Friends and people that we care about just lost everything," McDowell said as over 50 people are confirmed to have died with 1,300 still listed as missing.

"It put things in perspective for me from a golf point of view.

"Trying to help people took a lot of focus off what I was doing. I didn't get to practice and prepare as much as I would have wanted, from working on our place and trying to help people down there.

"People that we care about, people who are really good friends, their homes just got flattened. They're now trying to get their lives back.

"We've been trying to help with some fundraising efforts and we've been trying to rebuild. Mother Nature puts life in perspective with how cruel it can be.

"It has been really scary and my mind just hasn't been on golf. Consequently, I just didn't feel that I was ready to play at Wentworth. It's been a very difficult few weeks and I'm looking forward to getting back on the golf course, refocusing and taking the next steps."

Global Giving has started a relief fund for the Bahamas, raising over £1.5m. Further information is available here.

McDowell is back in action this week at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, where he tees off at Carnoustie at 9.11am on Thursday.

He has so far risen 125 places up the World Golf Rankings this year and, buoyed by a top 20 finish at the US Open as well as a PGA Tour victory at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship, he's got big aims moving forward.

"I believe I'm still good enough to win out here," he said.

"Playing for Padraig (Harrington - European Ryder Cup captain) at Whistling Straights is my big goal for the next 12 months. I'm laying out my schedule to give myself the best possible shot to be on the team.

"If I play the way I know I can play then I can be on the (Ryder Cup) team.

"The Ryder Cup is something that I cherish and my experiences have been the best of my career. I would love to play at least one more.

"You've two rookies in Shane Lowry and Viktor Hovland who you'd say will be very close to the team.

"The spots are starting to disappear as we speak, it's a changing of the guard. I'm just hoping I'm not too old. I would love to be part of the team as it's such a special event."

In order to propel further improvements in his game, McDowell has hired coach Kevin Kirk, who also works with Patrick Reed and Lexi Thompson.

"I started working with a new coach, Kevin Kirk, about a month ago," McDowell said.

"He's based in Houston and I like what I'm working on. Having someone US-based is really important to me.

"My coach has been based in the UK for a long time, but now I'm spending so much time in the States that it will help me get that consistency.

"Kevin gives me a fresh look and a fresh enthusiasm on things, and I'm really excited about the relationship so it should be a lot of fun. I've got a lot to look forward to - let's see if I can finish the year off strongly."

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